Artistic swimming qualifier in Tokyo postponed until May

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Tokyo Aquatics Centre, which will host artistic swimming, diving, and swimming events at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games, is seen as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) - The artistic swimming Olympic qualification event due to be held in Tokyo in March has been postponed until May because of novel coronavirus restrictions in Japan, organisers said on Thursday.

Tokyo 2020 organisers and swimming's world governing body FINA said the qualifier, which also doubles as a test event for this summer's Tokyo Games, would take place from May 1-4 instead.

"The decision to postpone was taken for a number of reasons including assisting the ongoing efforts in Japan to come out of the current situation as soon as possible," they said in a joint statement.

"Further reasons were ensuring the fairest possible conditions for athletes... as some necessary preparations may not have been possible given the latest COVID-19 situation in, and for, participating nations as well as some of the entry restrictions currently imposed in Japan."

With much of Japan under a state of emergency battling a third wave of COVID-19 infections, the country has effectively shut its borders to foreign non-residents.

Initial restrictions allowed foreign athletes to come to Tokyo for Olympic test events and training but that was changed earlier this month.

The postponement of the qualifying event comes amid dwindling public support for the 2020 Games, which have already been delayed by a year due to the pandemic.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Peter Rutherford)